There are 37 TransformSC Schools and 3 TransformSC Districts, each at different stages of change. Some are still designing and planning, while others have fully implemented transformational practices. It will take a long-term commitment to change the system that has been in place for over a century, but at least 3 schools fully implementing transformation are already seeing results.
Whittemore Park Middle School in Conway, a school with a 98.8 poverty index, raised its state report card grade from a ‘D grade’ to a ‘B grade’ in just one academic year. The students are using the ‘iCAN’ model, which promotes 21st century skills such as digital literacy, communication, teamwork, and project management. (iCAN is an acronym for the model’s central elements: individualized, college and career readiness, aspirations of students, and network of support.) These students have the ability to pursue their interests and talents while being engaged in education with a large amount of social and emotional support from the community, teachers and parents.
Whittemore Park was one of the few public schools in the country to receive a Next Generation Learning Grant from the Gates Foundation and used the funds to provide all 6th graders with Macbooks with a customized digital dashboard delivering personalized content and embedding assessments to continually monitor student progress. Twenty-two 6th graders mastered 6th grade math standards early and advanced to 7th grade math. Standardized test scores have increased in all groups across the 6th grade. The model has been so successful that Horry County Schools are planning to implement it district-wide.
The Early Childhood Center in Lexington District 4, a rural district with 86.9 poverty index, opens its doors each year to children ages 3-5 and follows the Montessori model. Since the inception of the program, students have shown significant gains in acquisition of skills. According to a nationally recognized assessment called “Dial 3,” students’ motor skills increased 12%, language skills increased 9%, and concept skills increased 14%. The percentage of students scoring ‘average or above’ in a literacy measure also increased by 10%. The most dramatic progress was shown in parent engagement, with an increase of 24 parent engagements to 274 parent engagements in the number of children represented by parents at school conferences and training classes.
Cougar New Tech High School in Colleton County is located along SC’s infamous I-95 corridor, labeled in a recent documentary the “Corridor of Shame” for its poverty and low educational attainment. Eighty 9th grade students are participating in the New Tech High School model. They showed impressive gains after one year of project based learning and intense professional development for teachers. Discipline referrals are down 90%, the average reading level increased 2 years in 9 months, performance on the Algebra I end-of-course state exam increased 12 %, and there were 74% fewer failures due to absences.
TransformSC, an education initiative of New Carolina, is a collaboration of business leaders, educators, students, parents and policy makers transforming the public education system so that every student graduates prepared for careers, college and citizenship. TransformSC schools and districts are designing, launching, promoting and proving transformative practices in the classroom. Currently there are 37 schools and 3 districts in the TransformSC network. For more information, visit www.transformsc.com